Data Is Beautiful: DFS Through The Eyes of a Machine
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. – Confucius
If you’ve been following the Rotoquant you’re well aware of my obsession with data. Typically I restrict the content posted here to sports, sports betting and fantasy sports analysis; in this narrow domain of the world there’s an infinite amount of data to pour over. But with my recent career change I’ve become very interested in the data generated by the daily fantasy sports periphery. The universe is chalk full of data, it’s generated everywhere by damn near everything, and – as the quote from Conscious above would imply – seeing the beauty of this data is only a matter of viewing it through the appropriate lens.
I went off on a computational tangent today at work while obsessing over the following question: what is the internet footprint of the DFS industry? If a machine could paint a realist painting of what a daily fantasy sports website looks like through it’s steely eyes, what would that portrait look like? In order to find out for myself I dug up some web-crawling code, optimized it a bit, and started drawing pictures. Let’s start what the page you’re looking at right now. Below is a network graph of all links associated with rotoquant.wordpress.com.
… Pretty cool, right? When I first saw this image I was sort of impressed – my little blog has a much more complicated internet profile than I naively assumed. Part of the complexity is due to the shear quantity of posts I’ve put up, another part has to do with my general rule of putting at least 1-2 bits of linked content in each post, and still more of the complexity comes from the wordpress.com wrapper on the site itself. At any rate, this graph gives the impression of a central core of closely linked content, linking to a few critical gateways to the outside world.
So what do other sites related to daily fantasy sports look like?
Well, one of the most popular and helpful producers of fantasy content is Rotogrinders.com. Anyone who has played or plays DFS seriously for any amount of time knows about and probably uses Rotogrinders content. Here is what Rotogrinders.com looks like under our new microscope.
Woa! This explosion of connectedness is overwhelming – it’s very difficult for the program to arrange the graph such that you can identify any meaningful structure. But this makes intuitive sense – Rotogrinders produces links to hundreds of bits of content every day, and they have links and advertisements to dozens of daily fantasy sports sites and sources of research / content on almost every page.
After looking at few these images I wanted to understand what the DFS sites themselves look like, and what I found was pretty interesting. Stepping away from the link-spaghetti that is Rotogrinders. Below is an image of my new site Victiv.com:
… Much more digestible. Of course – we are still in a beta period (sign up for the free $5,000 guaranteed NFL preseason final beta contest here). I can’t wait to track the growth of Victiv.com from this obscure lens, just to see how it evolves. Keep in mind that a bigger graph doesn’t necessarily represent a better site – smaller more digestible graphs could point to a clean, elegant design with fewer distractions and a better UI. All these things are context dependent, and the key is that the structure of the site match and compliment it’s intended use.
For your entertainment I mapped out the other major DFS players (curiosity killed 3 hours of my time). Enjoy these images – if you have any special requests for a web map leave it in the comments and I’ll see what I can do. Enjoy!
StarStreet.com (Note: as part of the recent wave of consolidation in the industry, StarStreet was acquired by DraftKings and the site is being shut down. It was interesting to see what the final stages of a DFS site look like, compared to these other examples):